Pressing as you sew is an essential step to achieving a polished finish for any make. It may seem like it isn't important and its a step that you can skip, but pressing your seams and the details of your makes can make the difference between "home made" or handmade. Pressing tools have evolved and there are many for you to choose from that will make your life much much easier.
I have an ironing "station" set up so that I have all my tools within reach all the time. There is nothing fancy about the station itself, but it does allow me to iron at anytime. My ironing board is set up right next to the window to ensure good light, and a cool breeze! As the ironing board is close to the window I utilize the window ledge for storage, its the perfect height as its the same height as the ironing board.
My pressing tools include:
My iron/ironing board which are permanently set up for ease and efficiency
A good ironing board pad
A spouted container that I fill with water before any sewing session
Padded Sleeve Ironing Board This is a bit more money, but it will last you for years!
A wooden Tailors clapper & a mini Tailors clapper- made by Mr. Mike
Tailors Ham It was fun to see this one on Great British Sewing Bee
Each of these tools is a unique and helpful tool for all of your pressing needs. Most of you have the basics already, but take a look at these fantastic pressing tools and consider adding them to your repertoire, you won't regret it. Once you have found a space to permanently set up your iron, explore how to use these amazing tools and get ready to produce professionally pressed garments every time.
I only just recently got this wool pressing mat from Love Sew and to be honest, I have absolutely no idea how I have managed without it. My mat is 18" X 12" and I was
pleasantly surprised by how thick it was once it arrived. It is made from New Zealand wool and it is very good quality, lightweight and portable. You should store wool mats flat as you don't want them to buckle or bend. I simply leave mine on the ironing board as it doesn't take up much space but it is always within reach. The steam from the iron goes into the wool mat surface and this helps to retain the heat for efficient pressing. Originally designed for quilting, it can easily shift to helping any garment sewist. I have use to press any flat seams as I sew and it leaves a beautiful flat seam almost instantly. I find that it is a perfect solution for fabrics that are difficult to press and you get a pressed, finished seam much more quickly. This new to me wool mat will be used regularly and it will be a featured item in my pressing tool kit.
These rulers are amazing. They are made from heat resistance plastic that you can easily slip under fabric and iron. Simply fold the fabric up over the iron and use the handy gauge to create a straight perfect crease for hemming. This ruler also comes with rounded corners which are wonderful for getting a perfectly pressed rounded corner on pocket patches.
Organza Pressing Cloth
Up until recently I never used an organza pressing cloth but I love it now. I actually use it for pressing any fine fabric clothing or for pressing a seam in trousers etc. A pressing cloth can - and should - be used with both a dry or steam iron. The cloth should be large enough that no part of the iron's soleplate touches the item being ironed. This allows the steam and heat to go through the organza but prevents damage to fine fabrics. A fine cotton cloth can also be used but I like to be able to see through the organza to the item that I am pressing. I used it when I was pressing the three dimensional flowers on my Grace Blouse from Fibremood. It worked perfectly.
The tailor's clapper originated about 120 years ago in England. There may have been other versions developed previously but they are not the recognizable smooth, wooden shape that we know today. Pressing your fabric and then replaces it right away with the clapper allows the hot steam to get drawn into the wood. The pressure from the clapper until the seam cools ensures that you will get a nice flat seam.
The clapper itself is a flat block of hardwood that has rounded ends and side grooves that act as finger holds. I have included a link to a wooden clapper, both or mine, as I also have a mini clapper were made for me by my husband. Pressing down on the clapper ensures a nice flat seam.
A Tailor's Ham is a very tightly stuffed 'pillow' that is used when pressing a curved edge of clothing. It is very useful for pressing darts, sleeves, cuffs, and collars.
If you are sewing all of the trendy puff sleeves you will definitely be grateful for a Tailors Ham. They are usually cotton on one side and wool on the other. Like a wool mat, the steam from an iron exits through the wool's fibers and keeps your fabric from getting a shiny. The rounded shape provides a professional press.
Finally for those collar corners and for the harder to reach areas you can use a tailor's point presser. These small pointed pieces of plastic will help you to push out curved seams, collar points or detail work. They are made of durable plastic and can be used in two ways. The point is used as your point turner, to push fabric out and give it a nice pointed finished. The edge of the presser is thin and hard and it can be used to flatten hard to reach seams that you can't reach with a tailors ham or wool mat. It is handy to have something that is smaller when working on sewing details.
Using these pressing tools for your specific pressing needs will ensure that any sewing, quilting or crafting project has a refined, polished professional finish. It is so important to take the extra time to press your project. After all, there is Sew Much To Design.